Bruce: ‘Unfortunate’ that Newcastle fans entitled to an opinion

Will Ford
Steve Bruce Newcastle
Steve Bruce Newcastle

Steve Bruce was in philosophical mood after being booed by sections of the Newcastle crowd on their return to St James’ Park.

The 60-year-old head coach, who has faced concerted criticism since replacing Rafael Benitez at the helm two summers ago, was jeered by some among a crowd of 10,000 as he, his staff and the players completed a lap of appreciation after the final whistle in their 1-0 Premier League win over Sheffield United.

Asked about the boos afterwards, Bruce said: “Look, as I’ve said from day one when I walked through the door here, I’m never going to be everybody’s cup of tea and I accept that, unfortunately. But that’s the way it is.”

Asked further if he was hurt by it, he added: “Everybody is entitled to their opinion and that’s the way it is, unfortunately.”

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Bruce, as well as owner Mike Ashley and the Premier League, had been targeted briefly in song during the game, which saw the Magpies climb to 15th place in the table and to within two points of last season’s finishing total.

The game was ultimately settled by Joe Willock, whose header in first-half stoppage time was his sixth goal in his last six Premier League appearances, the same number as £40million striker Joelinton has managed in two seasons.

Bruce said: “We had some really good opportunities and didn’t take them, but the goal itself was the real bit of quality in the game.

“It was a great pass from Allan Saint-Maximin and it’s a great cross from Jacob Murphy, and of course it would have to be Joe Willock again wouldn’t it? Six in six is a quite remarkable achievement.”

If Willock won the game, it was the spring-heeled Saint-Maximin who stole the show with a high-octane individual display which left defenders breathless and kept spectators off their seats.

Bruce said: “I’ve said from day one I think people are going to enjoy watching him. Certainly he’s got an ability which gets you off your seat.

“Some of the stuff he does off the cuff is just not coachable. He’s still got a lot to do in the final link, but certainly his talent is there for everybody to see.”

Caretaker Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom was left to reflect on missed opportunities with David McGoldrick passing up an early chance to pile the pressure on the home side.

He said: “We started really, really well, stopped Newcastle playing forwards, won the ball back in good areas and then broke from those areas and created chances, which we didn’t take.

“Then we got punished with the last kick before half-time, and that’s been the story of the season hasn’t it? It’s been no lack of effort, the players have been there.

“That 15 minutes where we came off it and weren’t as good, we concede a header at goal where Aaron Ramsdale makes a great save and then we concede a header that puts us one behind at half-time after being, I thought for the first 25, 30 minutes, in control of the game.”